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March 9, 2015 6:27 AM   Subscribe

Today is the official start of the 2015 Tournament of Books, an annual event where readers get fighty about books, vote for zombies, and eventually someone takes home a live rooster. The first round pits David Mitchell’s Booker-nominated The Bone Clocks against Adam, the debut prose novel of cartoonist Ariel Schrag.
posted by tofu_crouton (12 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball are likely to win.

Though I would love for All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld to win the entire thing because it was one of the most engrossing books I've read in quite some while. The kind of book you have to set down and walk away from and think about for a while because its just cuts too deep.

There are still too many on that list that I have yet to read, ack, work and distractions. Damn you metafilter.
posted by Fizz at 6:41 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Station Eleven vs. Untamed State?

I don't envy that judge.
posted by Flamingo at 7:25 AM on March 9, 2015

There are still too many on that list that I have yet to read, ack, work and distractions. Damn you metafilter.

Yeah, agreed! Even though most of these titles sound like novels in a Wes Anderson movie.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:26 AM on March 9, 2015

This is the first year where I've actually read a good handful of them. The pairings, however, mean that half of my favorites will be out first round. Station Eleven vs. Untamed State is the toughest, I think. The Ferrante book is one of my favorites, but it's the third of a series, so I'm not sure it can survive long on its own.

I'm most curious aboutAnnihilation vs. Dept of Speculation. Dept. of Speculation is the kind of novel that usually wins these awards. It's being judged by Victor LaValle, though, and he writes much quirkier books, so I think Annihilation will appeal to him more. I personally preferred Annihilation, but I think that's because the other book irked me with its Brooklyness and short chapters.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:35 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Matchups I have opinions about:

The Bone Clocks vs. Adam - I loved Cloud Atlas and was overwhelmingly excited about The Bone Clocks, which I picked up on the day of its release, but I dropped it about a third of the way through - it was just so slow and boring! I've read a lot of positive reviews and I just don't get the hype at all, but maybe I need to give it more of a chance sometime (hard when there are so many great books!). I haven't read Adam, but Ariel Schrag's comics are great and I feel like Matthea Harvey is more likely to appreciate that, although who really knows with her.

Station Eleven vs. An Untamed State - I haven't read An Untamed State but generally feel that Roxane Gay is slightly to moderately overrated (heresy, I know - don't worry, I rep Ortberg at least). I really enjoyed Station Eleven and thought it was a nicely different take on the post-apocalyptic novel and also made flashbacks, which I normally hate, work really well, even though it was maybe generally a little overly neat and sweet and tidy. I feel like that's the mainstream pick that I can see going all the way, but on the other hand I do feel like it's kind of a slight, sentimental book and there are others that are maybe more complex or have more social or cultural import and might be rewarded in this context for that (including maybe An Untamed State)(I feel similarly about the other big mainstream hit, All The Light We Cannot See, which was a lovely read full of beautiful sentences, but not much more than that, I don't think (not that that's nothing, though!)).

Annihilation vs. Department of Speculation - These are my two favorite books from the bracket so this should be the hardest, but it's actually pretty easy, especially because I actually think the second book is by far the best one in the Southern Reach trilogy (though maybe it is just genre prejudice and I enjoy books indebted to Kafka more than ones indebted to Lovecraft). Department of Speculation just felt so much more vital and specific and fun, though, I thought (also, it does so much in such a small space - I may reread it again now just because I can!). (Looking up the judge made me find out about Victor LaValle, whose I was not familiar with and whose work sounds awesome - "The Devil in Silver published by Spiegel & Grau August 21, 2012, is the story of Pepper, a sane man sent for observation to a mental hospital. There he encounters a monster roaming the nighttime halls. He teams up with some of the other inmates to fight the mental confusion of the drugs he is required to take, the staff, and the monster." - yes, please).
posted by raisindebt at 8:02 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I live for The Rooster every year. I've got a pretty good record of picking winners (she says modestly), but I'm a bit at a loss this year; it could go so many different ways based on some of these tough early match-ups. But, what the hell ... I'm gonna call it for Annihilation. It's divisive, but it's unlike anything else on the list, and it gets the nerd vote.

(Now, if I ran the world, All the Birds, Singing would win. Or better yet, Boy, Snow, Bird, but it wasn't short-listed, alas.)
posted by minervous at 9:20 AM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are any of you fellow mefites active in the goodreads groups?

we have lively discussion year round of hopefuls, contenders and then, of course, the tournament itself.

I was lucky enough to be a reader judge a couple of years ago and look forward to ToB like no other event during the year.

I haven't read all of the books this year, but feel like my favorite The Bone Clocks, is a bit divisive to win it all. My money is on All the Light We Cannot See.

I am in the minority in feeling that Station Eleven was weak and waaaaay overhyped.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:13 AM on March 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I loved Station Eleven. I also loved A Brief History of Seven Killings, which is probably an underdog in this bracket. People love All The Light We Cannot See, but it threw me into such an overwhelming (and unexpected) rage that I can hardly talk about it. This is unfortunate because I think there is a good chance it will win the Rooster (and possibly some other big name literary prizes as well).
posted by thivaia at 11:09 AM on March 9, 2015

Usually I haven't read many of the books by the time this rolls around, but I do use it to give me advice on which books to bump up to the top of my wishlist.
posted by matildaben at 11:15 AM on March 9, 2015

So far, no surprises. Maybe Annihilation/Dept of Speculation will be the first big upset.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:50 AM on March 11, 2015

I think Untamed State knocking out Station Eleven could be considered an upset -- not sure if it's a big upset, Roxanne Gay isn't a pushover. There's a good chance we'll see Station Eleven resurrect in the zombie round.
posted by gladly at 9:11 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's usually one judge in the TOB whose decision doesn't please anyone, and today, Stephin Merritt is that judge. Once again, it's an all-zombie final.
posted by gladly at 11:34 AM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

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